“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ― William Morris

‘Death by Blogging’ – Modern Life Strikes Again

Posted: April 8th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Life | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The New York Times has a short piece on a few prolific bloggers who recently dropped dead. The concern is that the highly competitive (and lucrative) market for fast breaking blog stories is driving up stress levels amongst top tier bloggers. Habits such as no life/work separation and the business need to have the first post on a new tech break-through in order to drive better views and advertising revenues is endemic. People now expect information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and many home grown bloggers take this to heart, not realising that larger organisations have teams on shifts to produce the same results.

Personally I’m not sure that these first recorded ‘blogging’ deaths a summer of dead bloggers make – to badly paraphrase an old saying. Modern life and health habits all conspire to preventing long life. All of us working on computers day in, day out would do well to take a moment away, de-stress and enjoy a physical life away from the screens that surround us. It’s a hard truth, but one we all need to follow, however fun our internet lives are.

Top Blog Tool: WordPress

Posted: March 20th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Technology | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

WordPress Logo

Blogs are a part of our daily landscape now. Almost everyone I know reads them regularly, even if they don’t know it, and a good chunk of my friends blog. For a while now I’ve been using Blogger, one of the earliest and most popular online blog tools that lets you log in to their site, write a post, and either have it published to your web host or hosted directly on their “BlogSpot” site. MovableType was another early popular favorite, and it offered something Blogger didn’t – the ability to host their open source software on your server – so you could hack/improve/integrate the code any way you wanted. A more recent arrival on the scene is WordPress, not that recent mind, but late enough that the team behind it got to look at the landscape and cherry pick the best from what was there, and cherry pick they did.

WordPress, like MovableType, offers two ways to run your blog with their software – you can either host it on their site (WordPress.com) or download their free, open source software (from WordPress.org) and host it on your own server. Both approaches offer their own advantages, but where WordPress really wins out is when you host it yourself. The beauty and simplicity of the code’s design has made it easy for a fanatical base of developers to create any number of plug ins, that quickly and easily extend the power of the basic WordPress blog. You can change your site into a PhotoBlog, plug in support for third party tools like the ubiquitous gallery software, or even create an eCommerce site (although those plugins are less full featured than focussed software right now). The choice is yours. Can’t find what you need? Then write your own plugin, and if you feel like it – share it with everyone else.

Plugins are only one part of WordPress’ genius. The admin interface is simple to use and cleanly designed. A range of beautiful templates are provided out of the box and many more can be downloaded, many for free. Search Engine Optimization is provided out of the box – with human readable URLs. The admin interface easily lets you create pages outside of the central blog and with a simple plugin you have something akin to more ‘powerful’ content management systems. Oh, and if you want to create a multi-user blogging environment, they even offer a multi-user version – the same as they use to run their commercial site (and soon expect official support for a user written plugin that makes the whole install an out of the box social network). Phew.

There is so much there to recommend this software, and the best part is it’s free and just keeps on getting better. So without hesitation – WordPress is my current recommendation should you want to create a blog or even if you want to just create a simple, dynamic website.